welcome to nhk world "newsline." i'm gene otani in tokyo. here's a look at some of the stories we're following this hour. chinese authorities are turning up the heat on leaders in north korea. the bank of china has cut off a key source of foreign currency. toyota motor has stepped on the gas. thanks to the weaker yen and better sales. the automaker is generating
profits it hasn't seen since 2008. and some residents of northeastern japan have grown frustrated with the pace of recovery efforts. artists from tokyo have headed there to add a touch of color. authorities in china are cutting off a key source of funding for their allies in north korea. the state-owned bank of china has closed the account of the reclusive nation's foreign exchange bank. the bank of china sent notification on tuesday to north korea's foreign trade bank. the institution has been a target of u.s. sanctions since march. it's accused of being involved in funding north korea's nuclear development program. 70% of the north's foreign trade is with china. the bank is believed to be doing business mainly with chinese firms. analysts say china is imposing financial sanctions on north korea to discourage the country from carrying out further provocations. chinese leaders are also apparently eager to show the
world they are cooperating with the u.s. in dealing with the regime of kim jong-un. but foreign ministry officials in beijing are deflecting questions about the recent decision. >> translator: you should put the particular question to the section that's in charge. >> chinese diplomatic sources say they do not want to aggravate the situation by angering their allies in pyongyang. north korean media have shown no reaction, and it's unclear how the measures will affect the country's economy. the u.n., the u.s. and other nations have hit north korea with a slew of economic sanctions over the years. the u.s. government announced in september 2005 it would investigate banko delta asia. the bank is located no macao and authorities suspected the bank of being involved in north korea's distribution of fake u.s. dollars. macao's body cooperated by freezing the bank's north korea related funds.
this added up to $24 million in assets in about 50 accounts. north korean officials responded saying unless the sanctions were lifted, there would be no substantial negotiations through the six-party talks on their country's nuclear program. government officials in washington and pyongyang held talks in april 2007 financial authorities in macao freed up the assets. north korean representatives returned to the six party talks and agreed to disable some nuclear facilities. however the negotiations later stalled. chinese leaders imposed financial sanctions on the north in 2006. the bank of china halted the remittance of foreign currencies following u.n. sanctions over a north korean nuclear test. many major firms in japan are releasing their earnings reports this week. toyota motor executives are expecting their profits in the current business year will
approach levels seen before the collapse of lehman brothers. the executive said that toyota posted more than $13 billion in group operating profit. that's for the business year that ended in march. it's also a 3.7 fold increase from a year ago. the weaker yen boosted sales in the united states and southeast asia. toyota says the operating profit for the current business year will likely exceed $18 billion. that would be up by about $5 billion compared to the previous year. the firm's executives said they expect the yen's continued weakness to help sustain overseas sales. toyota's earnings became sluggish five years ago when the collapse of u.s. investment bank lehman brothers triggered a global economic slowdown. global economic downturn. the strong yen also hurt the yen's performance.
>> translator: some say now that the headwind has subsided, it's time to take aggressive action. but i believe we've just got to the start line for sustainable growth. regardless of the market situation, all of us at the company will make efforts to secure a competitive edge. that needs to be strong enough to let us stay profitable. even if we are hit by something more serious than the lehman crisis. fuji heavy industries the maker of subaru brand cars has reported positive earnings. the corporate executives say sales and profit both hit record highs in the business year that ended in march. the yen's decline pushed up earnings for its overseas operations. the company says sales of its entire group rose 26% year-on-year to about $19 billion. its operating profit jumped to around $1.2 billion. that's more than double the figures posted a year ago. strong sales mainly in the u.s. and china contributed to the increase. for the current business year through march 2014 the firm
expects even stronger figures. fuji executives project sales to top $20 billion for the first time. they also expect the operating profit to increase by 49%. another deadly bomb attack toshiba suffered decline in sales and profits for the second straight year. sales of pcs at home and in the u.s. were prime factors. toshiba executives say sales dropped nearly 5% compared to the previous year to around $58 billion. its operating profit was down a little over 4% to nearly $2 billion. >> translator: the yen's decline has helped boost profit for our domestic semiconductor business but it has also erode earnings for tvs and pcs made overseas. we aim to turned around the
particularlyly sluggish tv business by streamlining business. >> maintenance demand for the nuclear power plants is cited as another reason behind the poor result. most nuclear power plants across japan remain idle after the disaster in march 2011. china's global trade grew in april but its exports to japan fell as the chinese currency, the yuan, went higher against the yen. but experts say that a negative impact from souring bilateral relations is starting to diminish. china's customs authorities said on wednesday that the country's totalle trade came to nearly $356 billion last month. that's up 15.7% from a year earlier. exports amounted to about $87 billion, while imports were nearly $169 billion. china's exports to japan fell 1.2% from a year ago. that marks decline for a third
straight month. authorities say the value of the yuan against the yen rose. china's imports from japan also fell 3.3% but the pace of decree was much more moderate than the percentage in march. the days of the samurai are long gone, but the skills that produced their sharp swords live on. one small company has turned traditional sword making cra craftmanship into a world class business and it is a cut above the competition. >> reporter: this knife is so sharp it cuts like a samurai it is a hot selling knife that's used in 47 countries in the world. the company is made by a firm that employs only six workers. its business goes back over seven centuries. the sword making craftmanship has been handed down through the
generations. the workers still make each of nearly 100 different kinds of knives by hand. the firm grew rapidly by expanding its sales channels abroad. on this day, a canadian buyer visited the maker. >> i love this. this is good size. >> reporter: he had fallen in love with the firm's knives. i bought 13 of them on this day. it cuts very thin. it was beautiful. i think it was the best knife experience of my life. >> reporter: this is the company's president. he took over the family business 16 years ago. back in those days, most people preferred cheaper, stainless steel blades.
but he feared that he would soon go bankrupt. >> translator: i thought about quitting right away, but i decided to hang on in the end. i didn't want to see my life end without trying everything i could. >> reporter: he thought had he had to come up with new products in order to survive. he decided to try making razor-sharp knives using the craftsmanship he had inherited. the red heated part is iron. the black part is the blade made of steel. the harder the steel, the sharper the blade. he uses pure and tough carbon steel for knife making. but this type of steel is hard to forge. too much heat and it will crack. after some three years of trial
and error, the sword smith learned to control the color and size of the flames. and here is his final product. see what it can do. these slices of sashimi look almost like pieces of art. morita next turned his eye to overseas markets. he launched an english website. he peppered it with words like samurai to appeal to potential d customers. soon he started receiving orders from chefs overseas. he handled requests for knives with the edges angled and thinned down to .1 millimeter. moritaka managed to wipe out losses. sales climbed five fold in 15
years. >> translator: you need a pair of skilled hands and keen eyes to read the times. they are like two wheels of a cart. we have to have both of them to keep things going. >> reporter: to date, moritaka has been getting orders from the united states and european countries. now he has his eyes set on the growing markets in asia. >> pretty amazing. here are the latest market figures.
the people aiming to become the next president of iran are handing in their candidacy papers. authorities have opened the five-day registration period. the winner the june 14th election will succeed outgoing president mahmoud ahmadinejad reformist hassan rowhani was among those who registered on the first day. he is the former chief nuclear negotiator. iranians have been struggling through an economic slump because of international sanctions over their nuclear development program. analysts say most of the candidates will be influential conservatives, critical of ahmadinejad. they include tehran mayor mohammad bagher ghalibaf, who is
known as a pragmatist among iran's conservative politicians. another is former foreign minister ali akbar velyati, he's a longtime foreign affairs adviser to supreme leader ayatollah ali khamenei. iran's constitution bars ahmadinejad from seeking a third term. he will likely throw his support behind a close aide in an attempt to maintain his influence. ahmadinejad has been at odds with ayatollah khamenei. but khameini, as supreme leader, is more powerful than the president. he appoints heads of many posts in the military, the civil government and the judiciary. and he has strong influence on the guardian council. it screens candidates before they can run for the presidency. koichiro tanaka has followed iran for many years. he's the director of the institute of energy economics japan. he gave us some insight on the upcoming election. >> first of all, we have to look how this campaign would go on.
most of the candidates, i believe, would say, talk about mr. ahmadinejad's presidency and also they would talk about his performance in the past years. now, both former presidents would be, i believe, criticized of their performance and the way they conducted their state affairs. the major candidate that we could see today is mr. rowhani who used to be the chief nuclear negotiator during the presidency of mr. hatami. he may have a chance, but the problem is that he's perceived to be so close to mr. rafsanjani who has attracted a lot of criticism from the conservative camps, and i think that would make his campaigning very difficult. from the conservative mainstream, you can count on mr. ghalibaf who is the mayor of tehran at this moment and also mr. velyati who used to be the
foreign minister in the 1980s. both would have a chance. but one would say he is a close confident to mr. khomeini, who is the supreme leader to the islamic republic. while mr. ghalibaf is a known technocrat but he still has some differences with the leadership. so in the end, there may be some sort of a contest between these three personnels. but i would see that mr. khamenei and the leadership of iran today would not want to see sort of a repetition of what happened after the 2009 elections which caused a major disruption in the state affairs. if it happens today or if it's repeated again today, it would become sort of a pretext for other countries to intervene and criticize iran, which is very dangerous at this moment. so in the end there would be no say serious candidate contender or serious contender against the
conservative camp. that would be the forthcoming election. >> that was koichiro tanaka of the institute of energy economics japan. people living in some parts of northeastern japan have grown frustrated with the recovery. some say reconstruction after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster two years ago is moving forward at a painfully slow pace. many of them have to navigate daily around mountains of debris. so a group of artists from tokyo has traveled north to add some color. here's more. >> reporter: the peninsula where karakowa sits has been its blessing and its curse.wa sits blessing and its curse.uwa sits
blessing and its cursuwa sits h blessing and its curse. this town in miyagi prefecture was once a thriving fishing community. but it faced the full force of the march 2011 tsunami. nearly 100 residents died. and houses were swept away. this family has farmed waters in karakuwa for more than a century, cultivating oysters, scallops and seaweed. they lost all their gear in the tsunami. the family built a new workshop and restarted business in january. >> translator: many people extended help to my town from around the world. i've been trying hard to move on with my life. i believe showing our efforts will be the best way to thank those people. >> reporter: but ichiro still feels sad when she looks at her devastated town. >> translator: my town used to be such a beautiful place but
you wouldn't know it seeing it today. that's why we have a craving for something colorful and beautiful. i believe seeing colors will cheer us up and help us move forward. >> reporter: japanese american artist jay horinochi wanted to help. the 31-year-old belongs to an art collective called tokyo deks. he's been a regular visitor to karakuwa since he first volunteered soon after the disaster struck. the isolated location made it difficult for relief workers to reach the town. the community was in urgent need of assistance. jay and other volunteers helped locals remove debris and clean up their homes. he met ichiro when she offered volunteers a place to stay. over time, he began to
understand what she and other locals were missing. >> a lot of the locals were saying that after the tsunami, color was gone. there has to be something i can do as an artist to kind of, you know, just bring a little bit of energy or joy back to them by using color. >> reporter: jay reached out to karakuwa in late april. he brings with him several other artists. and an idea to brighten up the community. they decide to paint the walls of two buildings. on ichira's factory, they plan to depict the town's maritime heritage. and in the house for volunteers they'll paint a frog. because in japanese, the word for frog sounds like the word for revival.
local children also get involved. the artists ask the children to cut out octopus, fish and other shapes from adhesive paper. the cutouts are arranged on the mural. when peeled away, they look like they are in the sea. on the third day, the paintings are finally complete. colorful fish and other creatures swim along the factory wall. the frog on the wall of the volunteer home is also finished. many residents approve of this colorful new art. >> translator: the pictures give us hope like the future will be bright. i'm really happy. >> translator: we're pleased we did it. i hope we can create more colorful wall paintings wherever
possible. >> reporter: the same day, a rainbow appeared in the sky. as if to celebrate a project to add color to a town where the future once seemed only gray. nhk world, karakuwa, miyagi prefecture. thousands of residents are still waiting to go home. vast tracts of land are still waiting to be restored. and more than half of fishing ports on the pacific coast must be rebuilt. people in northeastern japan still face challenges following the 2011 disaster, but step by step, they're moving forward. see their stories every wednesday on "the road ahead" right here on "newsline." another beautiful day in tokyo. meteorologist robert speta is
here with more on that. robert. >> we are continuing to see these sunny skies across most of japan here. going into thursday, and even friday, it does look like the high pressure that's producing it is going to continue to linger overled. we're seeing these strong southerly winds. that's going to also bring these temperatures up actually into tokyo, by friday expect temperatures to go into the high 20s. but by friday morning, that's when things are slowly going to change. eastern japan will still see sunny skies throughout most of the day but towards the west a low pressure area is coming in. south korea will start to see rain showers, then into kyushu early friday morning, pushing eventually off to the east. most of japan saturday will see some showers coming from the west. down into southeastern china we have been talking about all week this persistent stationary boundary which has been lingering. in the past 24 hours alone here on your wednesday, in one
portion of guangdong province you've seen upwards 2600 millimeters of rain. needless to say that's causing risk of some flooding because still more is in the forecast as this front does continue to linger. eventually though it is going to continue to push off towards the east but really there is the flood threat here. now with this though we have that warm air coming up but that front is going to eventually start to lift off toward the east. behind it high pressure is ridging in. by the weekend things in china are going to start to really warm up. take a look at some of these temperatures. beijing, you're going to be getting up above 30 degrees here on your saturday and sunday. average typically around 26. chongqing as well. even shanghai. most of the weekend it is going to be absolutely baking across much of eastern china. some sunny skies in place once that front decides to move off there towards the east. now here into the western portions of the americas, an upper-level low continues to spin into the central rockies. what this is doing especially just west of denver, we're seeing the risk of snowfall, upwards 15 to 25 centimeters.
the same low will split up, push off toward the east, organize. well, it is in may and this is the time of year when these lows start to push off like this, you see that risk of some severe weather. we're talking about ping-pong to baseball-sized hail around kansas, oklahoma, you could even see the risk of a tornado or two here as this does push off. and then winds possibly upwards of about 100 to 110 kilometers per hour with this storm system, eventually shifting off to the east and northeast by the weekend. for now a low pressure area will linger here making for unsettled weather around new york, washington, d.c., you'll see some showers. vancouver and seattle, partly to sunny skies for you. across europe, ireland, are you still under some high wind warnings here as this does continue to push these very gusty wind onshore extending off towards france.
flood warnings in effect here with this associated front. really, do you not want any more rainfall. that's going to continue to impact your area. where you are seeing most of the severe weather, here into the balkan peninsula. bulgaria saw winds upwards of 70 kilometers per hour. greece is still seeing thunderstorm activity here as well and it will continue to persist. flights in and out of athens, watch out for the possibility of a delay here. i've seen those thunderstorms for you. london you've been in the 20s recently but starting to dive down to 13 for your high on thursday. that's a look at your world weather. here's your extended forecast. ♪